A bit confused about lens.

Started Dec 25, 2011 | Discussions thread
brightcolours Forum Pro • Posts: 14,022
Lenses for different things.

xcimo wrote:

Thanks you very much It helped a lot.

Also, what spec make good len for various usage? (Just pure spec, I undersand that there is also len quality, but I suspect that macro len will have similar spec between low-end to mid-end).

For example for:

Jack of all trade


Macro lenses traditionally were lenses that could do 1:2, so if your sensor is 20mm wide, a subject of 20 x 2 = 40mm wide could fill the frame, at maximum magnification/minimum focus distance.

Nowadays most macro lenses can do 1:1 (so, with a 20mm wide sensor 20mm wide subject can fill the frame at MFD).

On compact cameras, the macro mode is more a close up mode. Because the sensors are so tiny, the frame is filled very quickly though. For a lens' close up ability, check thhe magnification numbers from the manufacturer. For macro ability, lenses are labeled "macro" anyway. Most macro lenses are 1:1, two exceptions: the Zeiss 100mm f2 macro and the Canon 50mm f2.5 macro, which both are 1:2 macro lenses.

There are some zoom lenses labeled "macro" too, but those should be labeled "close up" or something. Also, the 28 and 24mm primes from Sigma do not reach 1:2, let alone 1:1 max. magnification.

On APS-C I prefer wide angle view or tele view for close up/macro, so 20-35mm or 150-200mm.
Lenses I therefore find attractive for close up stuff include:

  • Voigtlander 20mm f3.5 SL II + 12mm extension tube

  • Canon 24mm f2.8 + 12 or 25mm extension tube

  • Canon 35mm f2 + 12mm extension tube

  • Tokina 35mm f2.8 DX macro

  • Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG HSM macro

  • Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM macro

  • Tamron 180mm f3.5 macro

  • Canon 180mm f3.5 L USM macro

  • Canon 70-200mm f4 L USM + extension tubes

Extension tubes increase the lens' ability to focus closely. kind of like the macro mode from a compact digital.


You can of course shoot portraits with whatever focal length you like. But the most flattering focal lengths for portraits sit between 80-135mm on FF.
For APS-C that then is between about 50-90mm.

Portraits often can benefit from a shallow depth of field (to isolate the subject from the background), so a big aperture. The smaller the f-value, the bigger the aperture and the more shallow the DOF.
Lenses I would look into for portraiture speciality on APS-C:

  • Tamron 60mm f2 Di II macro

  • Canon 50mm f1.2 L USM (very heavy and expensive)

  • Canon 85mm f1.8 USM

  • Canon 85mm f1.2 L USM II (very heavy and expensive)

  • Tamron 90mm f2.8 SP Di macro


Same as above with portraits, you can shoot landscapes with whatever focal length you like. But most people think of wide view with "landscape". And for that the following lenses are best on APS-C:

  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM

  • Sigma 8-16mm

  • Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 DX

The Sigma goes a lot wider than the other two, even though the numbers look very close together. With shorter focal lengths a few mm difference... makes a big difference.

Jack of all trades
There are none. It is for you to find the best compromises for YOU.

For me, I would look for a good standard zoom (like the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 HSM OS, the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 as budget conscious alternative without image stabilization, the Canon 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM when you want a bigger focal range and care less about big aperture), a tele lens (Canon 70-200mm f4 L USM, Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM, Canon 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM, Canon 70-300mm f4-5.6 L IS USM, Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 VC USD, or the Canon 55-250mm IS as budget alternative), and a macro lens of above mentioned ranges.

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